|First Appearance||Megami Ibunroku Persona|
- "I am Philemon, a dweller in the rift between consciousness and unconsciousness of all souls... I am you. You are me... I shall always watch over you from within. Farewell..."
- —Philemon, Persona 2: Innocent Sin
Philemon is a recurring, important figure in the Persona series.
Philemon comes from the writings of Carl Gustav Jung, specifically that of a "wise spirit guide". His name is also shared with the name of the recipient of one of St. Paul's letters in the book "The Epistle to Philemon" found in the Christian Bible.
- Megami Ibunroku Persona: Major Character
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin: Major Character
- Persona 2: Eternal Punishment: Major Character, Ultimate Boss
- Persona 3 / FES / Portable: Blue butterfly form
- Persona 4 / Golden: Blue butterfly form
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth: Blue butterfly form
- DemiKids Light / Dark Version
Philemon is shown as a deity wearing a mask. In Megami Ibunroku Persona, his mask has the image of a violet butterfly wing in the right side of his face and the eyeholes do not show his pupils. He also wears a suit consisting of a black shirt and tie, a white blazer and white pants with black dress shoes. He also has long, black hair tied up in a ponytail. In Persona 2, his design is changed to wearing a black turtleneck shirt and black pants fastened by a belt. The butterfly wing on his mask is more three dimensional and has been moved to the left side of his face and has been recoloured orange. The bottom right side of his mask exposes his face and his pupils are visible through the mask's eyeholes. His hair is also recoloured to a dark burgundy shade and his ponytail is shorter than in the previous title. In Persona 3, Persona 4, and Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth he appears as a blue butterfly.
His design was inspired by the Chinese Philosopher Zhuang Zhou, who wrote "The Butterfly Dream" in the Zhuangzi.
Philemon serves as a neutral observer and he watches as things unfold. He cannot directly interfere, however, the party is aided by the Velvet Room, which is filled with his servants. Philemon is conducting an experiment with Nyarlathotep to see if humans can become enlightened beings, rising above their nature, or if they will completely and utterly destroy themselves. While Philemon continues to play by the rules, Nyarlathotep breaks one of the conditions of the experiment by interfering with the humans and directly manipulates events to ensure the destruction of mankind.
While Nyarlathotep is a monstrous entity born of human evil and desire for destruction in all its forms, Philemon is a guide formed out of its best impulses and desires for growth and hope. The war between the two is revealed to be essentially a bet between the two meant to probe Humanity's heart to wonder what lies inside: whether Nyarlathotep's ultimate triumph, or Philemon's. Following two victories to Philemon, Nyarlathotep was banished to parts unknown, leaving Philemon to serve as a guide to others, though the game is far from over.
Philemon is a deity who appears as a man wearing a butterfly mask. He lives within the realm of the consciousness and unconsciousness of all souls and he awakens within people the ability to use Personas.
Megami Ibunroku PersonaEdit
Philemon first appears to the protagonist and his friends after they fall unconscious from playing the "Persona" game. After learning the protagonist's name, Philemon comments that not many can remember their names in his realm, introduces himself properly, then grants the group the power of Personas. Throughout the game, they are drawn into Philemon's domain multiple times, where he gives them hints and advice. At the end, he draws them into his realm one last time and praises them, saying that they are no longer wearing "false smiles" having discovered themselves. After bidding them farewell, he removes his masks and dissipates into a swarm of golden butterflies.
If the player decides to strike Philemon rather than thank him for actions at the end of the game, Tatsuya Suou's punch knocks away Philemon's mask; revealing none other than Tatsuya's own face beneath it. In response to the attack, he merely stated: "I am Philemon, a dweller in the rift between consciousness and unconsciousness of all souls... I am you. You are me... I shall always watch over you from within. Farewell...". This is another reference to Jungian psychology (specifically, Jung's Red Book) and the role of guardian Philemon follows in it, besides implying his appearance is as mutable as Nyarlathotep's. By extension, the comparison also implies Philemon's overarching role in the series is to be the protagonists' guardian, unable to openly interfere to protect them, but always overseeing their development and guiding them to a better path.
Philemon reappears in the same role in Eternal Punishment. However, he initially appears to be extremely weak and unstable, flickering in and out of existence. He later can be fought as an Ultimate Boss in his EX Dungeon, where he is notable as the only boss who will withstand and counter the ultimate Fusion Spell, Armageddon, and instead, send a stronger, absolutely unsurvivable version called Armageddon R as payback. Tatsuya's Scenario in the PSP version reveals that Nodens is his avatar.
Philemon may have appeared in Persona 3 in his butterfly guise. It is implied the Wild Card ability wielders have both unconsciously met Philemon, as both had an encounter with a glowing blue butterfly, which is implied to be Philemon; Igor no longer makes mention of being a servant of his though he maintains the same demeanor and abilities. The name "PHIL" which welcomes the main character in the Innocent Sin online game may also be a reference to Philemon.
The save points throughout the game are blue butterflies flying in small circles.
Persona Q: Shadow of the LabyrinthEdit
At the beginning of the game, a blue butterfly is seen trapped in a spider web. Once the party reaches the 8th Floor of the Clock Tower and enters the room in grid A1, Zen notices a butterfly trapped in one of The Capturer's webs, which triggers a request to free it. After completing this request, the next time the party goes to the Clock Tower's entrance, they see the butterfly flying up, higher and higher in the sky until it disappears. After finishing the game, the same blue butterfly seen in the beginning is seen struggling briefly in the web before it frees itself and flies away.
Additionally, two blue butterflies are seen circling around the save gears that are found before the boss of each labyrinth.
DemiKids Light & DarkEdit
Philemon is a S-Rank BattleNet Opponent said to have power over demons. He is quick to spot an opponent's weaknesses. Karfu is given after 1 defeat, Loki after 7, and a Scorpio after 14. His profile changes to say that he may soon give his power over demons to someone else.
- "Now, give me your all!" (Attempt to contact)
- "Believe in yourselves." (If the player attempts to escape)
- "I know you didn't." (Using physical attack)
- "Dodge this." (Using physical attack)
- "I'm not going easy on you." (Using Photon Cannon)
- "Don't let your guard down!" (Using Guard Punish)
- "Well then." (Using Guard Punish)
- "This might hurt." (Using Eternal White)
- "You're doing well!" (Using Transient Ripple)
- "How's this!" (Using Spectra Force)
- "Ugh! Good!" (When taking damage)
- "Ahh. Nice!" (When defeated)
- It was stated by Atlus in an interview in the DoubleJump guide that Philemon in his butterfly form is a sign that he is still watching over the protagonist of Persona 3 and Yu Narukami from Persona 4.